Carol Alayne

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Highland flair

TfW Highland coat collarI was working on four different Harris tweed garments last December when, by chance, I came across this article in The Guardian newspaper: Harris tweed sales soar. ‘Surely not just thanks to me’, I mused, but I was pleased with the closing remark from Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, who said: ‘There is a renaissance in handmade quality products, exactly the box Harris Tweed ticks. There is still a discerning customer out there who wants quality [handmade] goods…’ I do hope Tailoring for Women and the Harris Tweed Authority can continue to tick each other’s boxes!

TfW Highland coat frontHere is my latest Harris tweed garment. The design was based on a favourite coat of my client. TfW Highland coat coloursI kept the features she likes: multi-colour detail, authentic un-dyed stag horn buttons (as usual, The Button Queen had the perfect product), and the thing she called ‘swing,’ or the weight of the volume at the hemline, rather like a kilt.

TfW Highland coat cuffThere were two features she wanted to improve on: the length was to be made longer to cover every length of skirt in her wardrobe, and some of the features didn’t sit quite right. The generous pockets and the turn-back cuffs needed structure and staying-in-place power.

Little details can be a big deal. If a pocket doesn’t carry the right stuff or a detail doesn’t lie in place it can be annoying enough to ruin the experience of wearing a garment. (And if not the wearer, it can offend the eye of the person looking at it. I watched a weatherman on TV last night and the top collar of his suit jacket flipped up and away from the garment. I was so fixated on this that I lost the whole of the forecast.)

TfW Highland coat backThe rest she said, was up to me. I thought it would benefit for an added two-way zip to make it warmer. And to increase the volume, a generous pleat was added to the centre back. TfW Highland coat buttonholesThen I thought, if colour adds to the excitement, why not go for it with eleven (yes, eleven) different shades of the Harris tweed base cloth. And each bound buttonhole would be a different colour, arranged in the order of the spectrum. Think Richard of York…

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2 Responses

  1. Lexa Hilliard January 31st, 2011

    Just a note to say a big “thank you” to La Alayne for creating an even better coat based on my “old faithful” of 12 years. It is difficult to move on from a much loved and worn item of clothing. Carol helped me do it. The new coat is beautiful. It does have swing, it has colour and makes me feel exceptional. I am merrily wearing it every day in this cold weather and know that with harris tweed I shall be able to do so for at least 12 years and probably longer.

  2. What lovely tailoring…..and interesting to hear how you interpreted your client’s brief. I particularly liked the special touch of the button holes.

    And I have just discovered coat envy!


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Recognised as a pioneer of bespoke tailoring for women, Carol Alayne has over 25 years experience of creating striking garments for arts, sports and media personalities and business wear for professionals and executives.



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